‘Pandemic has prompted sustainable travel tipping point’, claims booking.com

‘Pandemic has prompted sustainable travel tipping point’, claims booking.com

OTA reports findings of global survey of travellers in 2021 Sustainable Travel Report

Booking.com research on customer attitudes towards sustainable travel has found 70% of UK travellers believe urgent action is needed to save the planet.

The research, which covered 29,000 travellers across 30 countries, indicates the pandemic has been the “tipping point” for travellers to finally commit to their own sustainable journey, claimed booking.com.

The results of the study are included in the 2021 Sustainable Travel Report which can bee access at the OTA’s global media room.

It found UK travellers are more committed than ever to travel in a “mindful way”, with 43% stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably in the future.

Over half (55%) of respondents said the pandemic has shifted their attitude to make positive changes in their everyday lives, with recycling (52%) and reducing food waste (49%) being the top priorities at home.

UK travellers’ day-to-day sustainable commitments tie in with their intentions for future trips, said booking.com.

  • 85% want to reduce general waste;
  • 83% want to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room);
  • 80% want to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars;
  • 74% will go as far as avoiding popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren’t contributing to overcrowding and to help do their part to disperse the positive benefits of travel to less frequently visited destinations and communities.

Many UK travellers revealed these sustainable pledges have come to fruition in the past 12 months:

  • 34% made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there;
  • 36% took their own reusable water bottle, rather than buying bottled water while on holiday;
  • 27% did activities to support the local community.

Over half (58%) admitted they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable.

However, while 64% of UK travellers said they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year – up from 44% in 2016 and 50% in 2020 – barriers remain.

Over half (51%) of UK travellers said they have not stayed in a sustainable property in the past year.

And 32% said they didn’t even know that they existed, 33% said they couldn’t find any options where they were travelling and 27% said that they didn’t know how to find them.

In addition, 55% of UK travellers believe there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.

Marianne Gybels, director of sustainability for Booking.com, said: “Over the six years we’ve been conducting this research, it’s been inspiring to see awareness of the importance of sustainable travel consistently grow, both with our customers and now with our partners, too.

“The good intentions are there on all sides, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make sustainable travel an easy choice for everyone.

“The more sustainable practices we can help our partners to identify and implement, the more we can experiment with how best to highlight this information to customers and ultimately make sustainability a transparent and easily identifiable part of their travel decision-making process.

“A small change like eliminating single-use plastics or switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs might seem insignificant in isolation, but multiplied by millions of travellers and properties around the world, these small steps all start to add up to a much bigger potential positive impact.”

Booking.com’s is currently rolling out a programme for properties taking steps to become more sustainable.

This includes sharing guidance, insights and best practices with properties via various educational opportunities, including handbooks and dedicated content on its Partner Hub.

The OTA currently displays over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs.

It says it is sourcing information directly from the certification bodies and displaying it on the property pages of partners who hold one of these established third-party certifications.

The site is also encouraging its accommodation partners to update their sustainability information, which includes 32 impactful practices across five key categories: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature.

Hundreds of thousands of properties are sharing at least some of their sustainability information with Booking.com, which can be viewed on the ‘Sustainability initiatives’ banner on each of their property pages.

“While it’s still early days, this is an important first step in providing more sustainability information in a transparent way to consumers, ultimately making it easier for them to start making more sustainable travel choices,” the global travel giant said.